Skip to main content

tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  April 15, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

6:00 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. volcanic ash from iceland has grounded hundreds of flights into and out of europe. on the "newshour" tonight, we get the latest on the disruption from kylie morris of independent television news. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff in tampa, florida. it's tax day, and some people here are angry about how their tax dollars are being spent. we'll explore what's behind that anger. and what citizens here think the role of government should be.
6:01 pm
>> who does a better job of creating jobs? the public sector or the private sector. >> you look at almost all the questions that are asked and the first question posed to any of us, whether it's local, state, or federal is now what is government going to do? >> woodruff: we'll have our own town meeting with white house advisor christina romer. plus, former u.s. senator mel martinez, former congressman jim davis, tampa mayor pam iorio and hills pwro *eg county commissioner mark sharpe. >> lehrer: then, jeffrey brown examines president obama's plans to revamp the space program. and simon marks reports from london on british politics-- american style-- with their first televised debate. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> every business day, bank of america lends nearly $3 billion to individuals, institutions, schools, organizations and
6:02 pm
businesses in every corner of the economy. america-- growing stronger everyday. this is the engine that connects zero emission technologies to breathing a little easier, while taking 4.6 million truckloads off the road every year. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
6:03 pm
and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: air travel across parts of europe was virtually halted today by an erupting volcano in iceland. the sweeping shutdown was the worst since 9/11. it's ripple effects stranded travelers on six continents. we have a report from kylie morris of independent television news. >> reporter: directly under transatlantic flights, the
6:04 pm
otherworldly ayefiyalla yokel is driving a column of volcanic ash 36,000 feet into the sky since the new year, there'd been seismic stirrings under the volcano with a powerful eruption last month. but yesterday, it turned to this-- the eruption had found a new pathway to the surface, driven by expanding steam, scattering a plume of ash directly into the airy path of high altitude winds. >> what's different -- high in the atmosphere. >> reporter: from 5:00 in the morning, hour by hour, the black shape representing the ash cloud edged across the meteorological maps from iceland to britain. clear skies here, and at first the planes kept flying.
6:05 pm
but by lunchtime, the departure boards told another story, as delays and cancellations spread faster than the ash itself civil aviation authorities taking the unprecedented step of closing the entire u.k. airspace to commercial flights. in manchester: >> it's really a bit strange to think that a volcano would affect a flight. not something you'd expect to happen in great britain. >> reporter: in edinburgh: >> edinburgh to paris then paris back to canada. not sure how that's going to play out. >> reporter: and at london's heathrow airport-- same story. >> it's really, really, really bewildering. no flight until saturday. there's nothing we can do. >> reporter: so why the extraordinary decision to ground planes in the u.k., france, sweden, finland, denmark and holland because of a volcano in
6:06 pm
iceland? when the plane flies into a cloud of volcanic ash, the tiny particles get sucked into the engine and that can cause damage to compressor blades and reduce performance, and cause flame out leading the engine to stall. that's what happened to the engines of k.l.m. flight 867 in 1989, when it flew through a cloud of volcanic ash above alaska. all engines were re-started for in 1982, a b.a. flight flew through volcanic ash above indonesia. the captain of that flight today recalled how they were saved. >> we glided the airplane down
6:07 pm
to 12,000 feet in 20 minutes. >> reporter: captain moody say authorities have taken the right decision today to shut the airspace, but when can it be re- opened? even the country's leading meteorologists admit what happens next is difficult to divine. >> looking ahead, if that volcano is staying in broadly the same direction. >> reporter: so for now, britain's air authorities can only consider the wind, and watch the volcano, before deciding when the planes, and their passengers return to the skies.
6:08 pm
>> woodruff: still to come on the "newshour": a tampa town meeting. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. welcome back from vacation, hari. >> sreenivasan: militants in afghanistan struck on several fronts today. in the south, a suicide car bombing killed at least six people. three were said to be foreigners, possibly britons. the blast rocked the city of kandahar, where nato troops plan to carry out a major operation this summer. to the north, four german soldiers were killed in a rocket attack. five others were wounded. the president of kyrgyzstan has resigned and left the country eight days after protests forced him from the capital. kurman-bek bakiyev flew to nearby kazakhstan on a russian mlitary plane. in the meantime, full operations resumed at a kyrgyz air base that supplies u.s. forces in afghanistan. crews in western china worked non-stop today searching for earthquake survivors. a series of powerful quakes rocked the region near tibet on wednesday.
6:09 pm
the official death toll climbed to 760 today, with more than 11,000 others injured. rescuers battled strong winds and high altitude in the mountainous area. in some places, they pulled villagers alive from beneath the rubble. president obama has ordered a review of coal mines with a history of violations. an explosion at a west virginia mine last week killed 29 men. the president criticized mine owners today for using "endless litigation" to block safety enforcement. and, he said current safety laws are "riddled with loopholes." >> i refuse to accept that any number of miner deaths is simply a cost of doing business. we can't eliminate chance completely from mining any more than we can from life itself. but if a tragedy can be prevented it must be prevented. that's the responsibility of mine operators. that's the responsibility of government. and that's the responsibility that we're all going to have to work together to meet in the weeks and months to come. >> sreenivasan: the president said he wants quick action to get more inspectors into mines that have troubling safety
6:10 pm
records. wall street edged higher again today. the dow jones industrial average gained 21 points to close at 11,144. the nasdaq rose more than 10 points to close at 2,515. civil rights leader benjamin hooks died today at his home in memphis, tennessee after a long illness. hooks became the executive director of the n.a.a.c.p. in 1977, and over 15 years, he more than doubled its membership. in 2007, he was awarded the presidential medal of freedom. president bush said hooks never faltered in demanding the nation live up to its ideals. benjamin hooks was 85 years old. those are some of the day's main stories. i'll be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you'll find tonight on the newshour's web site. but for now, back to jim. >> lehrer: this was april 15, the deadline for paying income taxes. it sparked new protests over government spending and carried special significance in this election year. >> we don't want someone in washington telling us how we have to live our lives, right?
6:11 pm
>> lehrer: tea party rallies in washington and across the country railed against higher taxes and what some called "gangster government." grover norquist of americans for tax reform addressed several thousand protesters. >> we don't have our hands in our neighbors pockets. we don't ask the government to put their hands in neighbors pockets. we were promised by mr. obama and his team that they would not raise taxes on average americans. >> lehrer: the washington rally was the last in a series for the "tea party express" cross- country tour. many in the crowd said they're "fed up." >> spending has gone up more under one year of obama than it did in eight years under bush. it's just nuts, we cannot pay for all the money that we're spending. >> well, i'm all for taxes. i mean, this is america, we have to run the country, we have to pay our taxes.
6:12 pm
i'm against the healthcare. they didn't read it, they signed it, they don't deserve to stay in office. >> lehrer: according to the white house, president and mrs. obama reported making $5.5 million last year. they paid $1.8 million in federal income tax. overall, the federal tax load for americans actually fell $173 billion this year, due to tax cuts under mr. obama. vice president biden traveled to bethlehem, pennsylvania today to make that point. >> the average tax refund in america is up over $3,000 this year and in no small part it broke that barrier because of the tax breaks that exist in this recovery act. >> lehrer: better-off americans will face future tax hikes, as health care reform takes hold and as some of the bush tax cuts expire in january. that prospect was enough to spark competing claims at the u.s. capitol today.
6:13 pm
>> i think there is some conflicting views right now. nobody likes to pay taxes, but responsibility to do it. >> these democrats that were up here have the same attitude as speaker pelosi and majority leader reid and the president have-- that washington knows best. send us the money and we'll decide what's best for you. >> lehrer: the debate promised to continue long after tax day and all the way to congressional elections this fall. >> woodruff: we asked our local pbs affiliate, wedu, to help us round up the people you see behind me, all. >> rodriguez: residents of this area. joining us to answer questions from this audience are the former republican u.s. senator from florida, mel martinez. former democratic congressman jim davis, republican mark
6:14 pm
sharpe, a hillsborough county commissioner, and the democratic mayor of tampa, pam iorio . plus, from washington, christina romer, the chairman of president obama's council of economic advisors. thank you all for being with us. thank you everyone in the audience. dr. romer, i am going to start with you. we appreciate your joining us. there have been several good economic reports out of washington and out of new york this week. but out here in the country as i've talked to people around the state of florida, the question everybody has is "that's all well and good, but when are we going to see the jobs come back? how " how long do they have to wait? >> well, i think you're right on both accounts. so we have certainly seen some encouraging indicators, including we got the news that in march we actually added 162,000 jobs, so that was certainly something that the president has been waiting to hear. but it is important to realize that is just the beginning.
6:15 pm
i think the truth is it took a long time to get into this mess, it will take, certainly, a while to get out. i think what we're all focused on is what can we do to make it faster? what can we do to help the private sector come back even more strongly. that's going to be a big priority in this work session of congress. >> woodruff: dr. romer, we're going to get right to the questions now and i'm going to ask sharon calvert to stand. she is a businesswoman and, am i right, a member of the tea party here in florida? >> yes, i'm one of the leaders he in tampa, florida. >> woodruff: and you have a question about the stimulus. the recovery act that was passed last year and how well it's worked. >> that's right. >> is there a time when we look at the stimulus, we've spent $900 billion and it didn't stimulate, where we look at broad-based tax cuts to give americans the money in their pockets to get the engine of our economy going again. >> woodruff: dr. roamer? >> what we found is that the recovery act so far has saved or created some 2.5 million jobs relative to where we otherwise would have been.
6:16 pm
the other thing is i think it's important to realize the recovery act had a lot of tax cuts in it. and we estimated that there have been some $200 billion so far of tax cuts and payments to people... to families in need that we think has actually been incredibly important to the recovery, accounting for as much as half the total jobs saved or created. >> woodruff: dr. romer, we have at least two people here who have questions about the health care reform law just enacted. it's laura woodard, who's right here with us, and carlos rodriguez, you're next to her. ms. woodard, you first, and then i'm going ask you. >> okay, dr. romer, i'm a small business owner and i speak with small business owners on a daily basis. and a frustration that we've had is that the bill was so large and include sod many different things and it felt like the administration was really pushing through the bill so quickly that we didn't have time
6:17 pm
to really talk about it and understand how it was going to affect how we would run our businesses. and so my question to you is why did it have to be pushed through so quickly? >> woodruff: and i want you answer that. but let me combine that with a question from mr. rodriguez which is related. >> dr. romer my question is simple. i've got 40 employees that i've been trying to give health insurance to. the question for us is now that we have the mandate, how is it going to be implemented, one, and, two, more importantly, realistally is how are we supposed to pay for it? >> i think it's important to realize we were working on the health care legislation for more than a year. and so there was a lot of discussion, especially of the small business question. we were certainly very aware and certainly both houses of congress were working very carefully to make sure that health care reform was a win for small businesses. so to go to the second question, the first thing you said, you talked about the mandate. well, one of the things things s really important is that the
6:18 pm
bill exempted any firm less than 50 employees from any kind of employer responsibility provisions. so that was... we heard small business owners, we didn't want to put restrictions on them, we wanted to help them. another feature is that it has tax credits to help small business owners pay for health insurance for their workers. and then the third thing has to do with the cost of health insurance, because if you're a small business owner, you absolutely know how expensive health insurance is in the small business market and if you're an individual, also. and one of the things that the health legislation does is set up a marketplace where small businesses can go and buy health insurance with some of the purchasing power of big businesses. and that health insurance exchange, as it's being called, we think will absolutely be lowering the price of health insurance for small businesses. >> woodruff: dr. romer, we have a question from jennifer fenn who is-- if you would stand up-- you're an attorney. you were dealing with an unemployment... you were unemployed for a time, is that right?
6:19 pm
>> right. i am a homeowner in hillsborough county and late in 2008 i lost what i thought was going to be a stable long-term job and was unable to find full-time employment again for about a year. so now i'm dealing with the fact that i may lose my home. so how would you propose to help someone like me who is a responsible homeowner but just, you know, suffered some ill effects from the economic downturn. >> well, the first is yours is a story that keeps me up at night. i know it's kept the president up at night. there are millions of americans like you who, for no fault of their own, were caught in this financial crisis that brought down production and raised unemployment and, you know, we've been struggling to come up with a housing plan that helps responsible homeowners going through a rough period stay in their homes. it's something that is an evolving process. i hope you will look into the program that we have through the department of treasury and
6:20 pm
through the f.h.a. at the department of housing and urban development. see if those programs can help you, because we absolutely want to be modifying the mortgages for responsible homeowners so that you can stay in your home. >> woodruff: dr. romer, we have a question now from a minister. i'm going to ask him to stand. reverend henry porter. >> when i look at the passage of the american reinvestment act and the health care legislation, both of those pieces of legislation came down along very partisan lines. how does the obama administration propose to govern going forward? >> i think the main thing is we all just have to keep trying. the president was trying today. he met, as he said he wants to do repeatedly, with leaders from both parties in the congress. he had them come to the white house to talk about financial regulatory reform and how important that is to get done and it's going to be something that has to be done in a bipartisan manner. and i hope that will be a chance for the two parties to work
6:21 pm
together and really give a sense that... you know, because we are all in this together. we all love this country. we're all trying to deal with a terrible financial crisis with some lingering progresses. we're going to have to come together . >> woodruff: dr. romer, i know we only have a couple minutes left with you and i want to turn now to someone who formerly served in government in the state of florida, former president of the state senate tom lee. >> we talked about the frustration people are experiencing here in america right now and particularly this area. but they're also afraid. and my question is how do we stop the massive growth of government? how do we limit the size of government? the mission creep of government so that our kids can grow up in an america that they can actually afford to live in without having to have everybody-- including the kids-- working to pay the mortgage. >> woodruff: that's an easy one to end on, dr. romer. (laughter). >> it is a fundamental issue about what your vision for the country and what do you think the appropriate role of government.
6:22 pm
i think place where we absolutely have complete agreement is whatever the role of government, we need to pay for it because we don't want to be spending now and burdening future generations. but i do want to say one thing about the size of government, because the president often... i've heard him lament many times of, you know, "i never wanted to own a car company, i never wanted to have to deal with a financial crisis." this was the hand that he was dealt, that the country was dealt, and he has done his best to deal with this problem. and i think, you know, the record is very clear that because of the actions-- and they were often very tough, very unpopular choices-- we are in a very different place this march than we were... or this april than we were this time last year >> woodruff: dr. christina romer, the chairman of president obama's council of economic advisors, thank you very much for joining us at this town meeting here in tampa. we know you have to leave but we
6:23 pm
thank you very much for being with us and i know everyone here appreciates your participation. >> thank you. >> it was wonderful to be with you all. (applause) . >> woodruff: so now we want to turn to our panel of florida sperb guests, former congressman jim dais on the left, tampa mayor pam iorio. former united states senator from the state of florida mel martinez and the current county commissioner for hillsboro county, mark sharp. i want to come to you first, senator martinez, you listen... i saw you listening very carefully to what christina romer was saying, that last question about the growth of government, you heard her talk about health care, you heard her talk about jobs, the stimulus package. what did you come away with? how much of that... how do you assess what she said? >> i would start by saying that
6:24 pm
at some point the statute of limitations runs on what you inherited. and we should stop talking about what this administration inherited. so that should be put aside first and foremost. but secondly, i would say that the growth of government began with a stimulus bill. the stimulus bill was not stimulative enough and, in fact, it grew government a great deal because of the funding of many government programs that was within that bill. and the bottom line is that when you look at the results, it just hasn't been there. the unemployment rate in the state of florida today is 12.2%. 12.2%. so the stimulus has not created the jobs that we were promised would be created through the stimulus. i would say on the issue of health care that there again we have... >> woodruff: well, let me stop you on the stimulus and turn to jim davis or mayor iorio and ask you. what would you comment on that? >> well, the benefits in florida to the stimulus have been that we've been able to keep our classrooms with teachers not having to cut. that's one of the reasons governor crist supported the stimulus.
6:25 pm
commissioner sharpe's wife is my son's schoolteacher and our schools have been intact even though the economy has sunk deeply. but we really have a problem here in florida. and some of the stimulus dollars did go into road construction, some of them went into hospitals and medical care. but we still have a big hole that we're going to have to fill. >> woodruff: senator, we have a question from someone, it's christina thomas. >> as elected officials i would like to know why after being elected by the people of the state of florida people would go to washington and choose to vote on the party line rather than what's best for their constituents at home? >> woodruff: senator martinez, you want to take a crack at that? >> first i would tell you that i really don't think most members vote on a party line because someone instruct them to. what happens is that at times republicans think one way about a problem and democrats think about a different way in a problem and i don't think it's because people are following a mandate to just vote as they're told. they're following the conscious of what they believe is the right thing for the country. we just have very different
6:26 pm
views at times. >> woodruff: i see mayor iorio squirming a little bit. (laughter). >> there is a terrible partisan divide in washington which is why i so enjoy the local level because it's very nonpartisan and we look pragmatically at how to solve problems and we get a lot done locally because of that. as soon as you get to washington, it does become totally party oriented, very ideological and it's preventing us from solving problems that our country faces. i don't believe the stimulus package was anything that was radical. a third of it went to tax cuts. a third of it went to extend unemployment benefits for families that were hurting. a third of it went for infrastructure. our nation is sorely behind in keeping up with our capital needs. there's nothing... there shouldn't be a partisan divide about infrastructure. infrastructure is a practical approach. it's what government ought to be doing. i think almost everyone can agree that one of the chief roles of government is to build roads and bridges and maintain pipes and do the kinds of things that keep our country going and
6:27 pm
keep our citizens safe and that's been the focus of the stimulus package. >> woodruff: all right. we have a question from tom gaitens. mr. gaitens, thank you very much for being here. a tea party member, is that correct? >> organizer, member, yes. >> woodruff: and you have a question about the debt. it's something that's been mentioned before. but i want to let you expand on it. we're going to pose it to congressman davis. >> 100% of tax revenues by 2020 will go to the new health care entitlement and the other three major entitlements including the interest on the debt. the infrastructure you seek, the infrastructure you seek is not possible under the current spending pattern we have in this nation. $12.4 trillion current debt and all it's going is higher. how do we get out of this? >> woodruff: jim davis? >> well, on the spending we have security which after 9/11 increased dramatically. we have the interest on the debt, tom. but the programs you describe have to do with our demographics. we're getting older every year, it's driving up the cost of health care. thankfully a lot of people are
6:28 pm
living a lot longer. the cost of medicine, the cost of keeping people alive is increasing dramatically. one of the best things this health care bill can do is help us manage those costs. help us reduce the price of medicine. as christina romer alluded to, that's going to come very slowly. this bill did not make radical abrupt changes in how care is delivered because that would bother people a lot and create problems. but over time if this health care bill does what it's supposed to do, it would reduce that cost. >> i would disagree with jim. the reality is show me a government entitlement program that ever sustained the original governing cost that were implyd from the beginning. medicare, medicaid, they never did. the cost overruns are astro tom cal, off the smarts, jim. >> but what's driving the cost is the fact that we are living longer and the cost of health care that we want for our families and for ourselves is more expensive. so we're going to have to make fundamental changes in how we deliver health care and how we live our lives if we're ever going to get a handle on the rate of increase in health care. >> woodruff: we have a
6:29 pm
question from greg thompson, you are a businessman in this area. and you have a question about government expansion. i'm going to let you pose this to mr. sharpe, commissioner sharpe. >> commissioner sharpe, this would be for both of the republicans on the panel. i'm a 20-year registered republican and proud of it, but one of the founding principles of the platform, i believe, is limited government. specifically do you-- yes or no-- believe that. and also what have you done since you've been a public servant specifically to limit the size of the government? >> well, one of the things that hillsborough county is very proud of is that over the last 15 years we have reduced millage each and every year so that an average homeowner who has a house of that's approximately $200,000, they're seeing a savings of over $400. so we have worked mightily to reduce the millage right, property taxes. we've also looked at some very difficult areas. animal services, if you want to
6:30 pm
get a roomful of people, start talking about cutting animal services. or aging services. you know, government at the local level is not real sexy, but i'll tell you what, when you talk about cutting a program, you'll fill a room because people will come in and say "don't cut my program." and there's some programs-- in education in particular-- where if you make the cut you're going to have to pay later when you deal with the problem. and, you know, pre-k, afterschool programs. but i'll tell you, as a republican, i believe it is our mandate to limit the size of government and growth and we're working to do that right now at the county. >> every program develops a constituency around it and that constituency is wedded not only to maintaining it but to growing it every year. every year they want more money for that program. so that's the difficulty with anything you start in government. that's why my fear is that with the health care bill in fact one of the premises of it in order for it to be revenue-neutral or budget-neutral as the president has said so many times is that there has to be significant
6:31 pm
medicare cuts at some point in the future. do you really think those are going to happen? i don't think they're going to happen. there's not a chance. it will probably be a republican majority by then and then we'll be accused of wanting to put old people out on the street and not giving them health care because we'll try to do what's supposed to be done. (laughter). >> woodruff: tim curtis is active in the tea party in this area, has a question from another perspective on the role of government. >> tonight we've talked about health, we've talked about housing, we've talked about achieving a lack of bipartisanship, but the one subject that seems to be conspicuously absent in the conferences at the government level-- and you can talk about local, state, or federal level-- is the creation of jobs. who does a better job of it: the public sector or the private sector? >> woodruff: mayor iorio, you get the first take. >> sure. first of all, isn't it interesting. we talk about the mission creep of government, what is the role of government. you look at almost all the questions that are asked and the
6:32 pm
first question posed to any of us-- whether it's local, state, or federal-- is now what is government going to do? so is it a surprise that we might have mission creep in government when the expectation in our country is that we have an activist government? that we have a government that attempts to solve problems? now locally this is my belief, that the private sector creates jobs. and it's my role in local government to create an atmosphere whereby the private sector will come in and invest in the city of tampa. >> the private sector does create jobs. so therefore wouldn't it be smart to have an across-the-board broad-based tax cut that is then going to put money back into the private sector? why wouldn't we instead of raising capital gains rates lower capital gains rates so business has the money to invest? but when you get committed to a class warfare mentality about taxing the rich and sticking it to the rich then you get into a situation where those that are creating the jobs are not really
6:33 pm
rich, they're just small business people and they get peged into that category. >> woodruff: we have two people here, kindra muntz and evan miller. i want to ask you about... both of you about your view of what's gone on in washington, the role of the media. >> if anything gets done, it's with one party 100% for it and the other party 100% against it. and so it's a two-part question. do our current elected officials see this as healthy for our democracy or do we see it as a potential danger to the future of our democracy? and if so, what ideas do we have to get beyond it? >> what can be done to curb the inflammatory rhetoric that is all throughout our cable t.v. stations and talk radio stations in this country that's tearing apart our country, that's hurting our democracy and potentially jeopardizing the
6:34 pm
lives of our elected officials? >> woodruff: this is a view we've heard from a number of voters. i want to give all four of you a chance to respond to this and we'll start with congressman davis and move on. >> it is fair to say that the extreme element of both parties have a disproportionate influence in congress and most legislative bodies right now. it's particularly bad in a state that's gerrymandered like florida. florida, texas and others are some of the most gerrymandered states in the country and we in florida and many other states will have a chance to vote on an amendment to the constitution to minimize some of the gerrymandering. what that ultimately does is produce more moderate. it also produces more people that can lose elections if you don't think they're being accountable because they're not representing you. if people are forced to choose between their party and the other party, they're going to choose their party. but what you really want people to do is to create a third way. senator martinez did this on the immigration issue. he reached out, he worked with president bush, he worked with democrats and republicans, it was a remarkable act of courage and he was creating a middle ground. both sides were mad at him. (laughter) but it was ultimately going to
6:35 pm
be a solution. he'll speak for himself in a minute. but those are two things in what i think the problem is and how we in florida can fix it as well as the country. >> we've always been highly partisan. that's been part of our history. the difference now is that now we have all these cable outlets and all this other social media and it just seems so much more oppressive. i guess you can just not watch the television, that would help in large part. but actually, i mean, we really need to elect different kinds of people to office. you need thoughtful people. i think anyone who blindly follows the party line-- democrat or republican-- should not be in office. that is not how you should conduct yourself. you should be an independent thinker. our problems today are too complex just to sign on to the party line. and it's up to everyone here in the audience and beyond to look for those candidates who are thoughtful, independent thinkers. and those are the people we need to elect. there are good people out there
6:36 pm
and we go in cycles and i believe we just need to get better people on the national level. (applause) . >> woodruff: senator martinez, what would happen if people were elected who didn't follow the party line? >> well, there are some consequences to that, but at the end of the day we have to act in the public interest. we have to act in the way that we think most of the people who elected us would like to see us behave. the fact is that it's deeply troubling to me to see the excessive partisanship and the fact that we seem to be losing -- present company included-- someone like evan bayh and so many others who tend to work in the middle, who tend to work across party lines. not to say that their convictions are not strong and they don't hold them dearly but just that in order to get things done in washington you have to reach across the aisle. you have to work bipartisanly. >> woodruff: commissioner sharpe, what would you add? >> well, at the local level we do work together.
6:37 pm
i mean, you have the partisanship but, you know, we don't have a lot of time. there are a lot of problems we must deal with. i work with the mayor who's a democrat. we work together on a lot of very important issues for our community. at the national level you've got the... because of the greater opportunity to be heard, you have this fraying. but i think that as the mayor said as well, this is a part of who we are. you know, we were founded on a tea party. people angry and mad about not being listened to. and so i don't... i've gone to tea party meetings where i've stood there and taken a position 180 from what they wanted to hear. i throw away the script because i can't remember the script. i'm just trying to do what i think is right because i really do love this country. i love... and i think we've got boundless opportunity and i'm confident for the future. >> woodruff: commissioner sharpe, senator martinez, mayor iorio, congressman davis, thank you all. i think it's been just a really special and extraordinary exchange.
6:38 pm
(applause). >> lehrer: our town meeting was recorded last night. what you just saw were. >> ed: the highlights. you can watch the entire event on our web site at newshour . pbs.org. in addition, webu will be broadcasting a one-hour version at 9:30 eastern time friday night. >> now, economics correspondent paul solman looks at what drives people's behavior in the modern workplace. it's part of his ongoing reporting of "making sense of financial news." >> reporter: a candle, box of tacks, book of matches. an old puzzle with a strangely relevant economic message. objective? fix the lit candle to the wall so no wax hits the table. economics? the faster you do it, the more money you make.
6:39 pm
punchline: conventional economics is wrong, because the greater the monetary incentive, the longer the solution takes, a solution you'll see in a bit. relevance? executive pay and wall st. bonuses, which might not enhance, but actually retard, high performance. or so says writer dan pink, once al gore's chief speechwriter. pink's first book, "a whole new mind," made waves by arguing that skills linked to the creative right side of our brains dominate today's global economy instead of left hemisphere thinking: >> logical, linear, sequential, analytical, s.a.t. abilities, spread sheet abilities. and today those abilities are essential but they're not enough and it's now abilities characteristic of the right hemisphere: artistry, empathy, inventiveness, big picture and that's changed the game of business too because what its done is it's put a premium on coming up with something new,
6:40 pm
profoundly new, iterating something the world didn't know it was missing. >> reporter: pink's new book, "drive," takes the next step: you motivate right brain creativity with more human, less material incentives. >> we tend to think that the way you get people to perform at a high level is you reward what you want and punish what you don't want. carrot and stick. if you do this then you get that. that turns out, the science says, to be an extraordinarily effective way of motivating people for those routine tasks-- simple, straightforward, where there's a right answer. they end up being a terrible form for motivating people to do creative conceptual tasks. >> reporter: how does the science show this? >> if you offer me a reward $500 reward, you have my attention. absolutely! a contingent reward gets you to focus like this: narrow vision. if the answer is right in front of you that's terrific, you race a lot faster. but if you have this kind of vision for a creative conceptual
6:41 pm
problem you're going to blow it, you're not going to do anything good. >> reporter: now before you economists out there click to some stock market channel, a bit more of the candle experiment, run in the '60s by psychologist sam glucksberg. he offered $5-- maybe 50 bucks in today's money-- to those who solved it faster than most people, but $20-- $200 today-- for the fastest time of all. with eyes on the prize and time of the essence, folks melt the side of the candle and try to stick it to the wall. a quick way, it turns out to watch your hopes melt. >> reporter: meanwhile dan pink took us to hunt valley, maryland, to show us non- material incentives in action. >> welcome to our computer museum! >> reporter: maury weinstein has been marketing personal computers since their debut in 1981. >> the original i.b.m. pc with two floppy drives. the commodore pet was very interesting because it has the
6:42 pm
lift up hood. >> reporter: is this the lisa? >> this is the original macintosh. the lisa is right next door. >> reporter: the trip down ram memory lane reminded us that in the high tech era, computer sellers have come and gone as fast as the hardware they've peddled. yet this firm, system source, has grown for three decades. a key reason, says the c.e.o.: the decision to drop sales commissions 15 years ago. he explains, with a hint of karl marx. >> we find that money often disrupts relationships. it disrupts customer efforts and sometimes it makes the customer feel like a piece of meat where you can't trust the salespersons recommendations. and that's a very slippery slope at that point. >> this is jason calling from system source. >> reporter: weinstein says sales spurted 44% as soon as commissions were canned in 1994; profitability rose three-fold. ed johnakin, a system source salesman for 17 years, says
6:43 pm
commissions have a downside. >> some salespeople may push customers into things that they might not necessarily need. >> reporter: did you ever do that? >> no, no. ( laughs ) maybe once or twice! >> reporter: so no commission, no incentive to sell stuff customers might be better off without. salesman john burke. >> i'm not looking to strike it rich or hit a pot of gold with one deal and then move on. i'm looking to foster a long term relationship with a customer. >> reporter: but were we perhaps seeing system source through pink-colored glasses? >> i think system source is fundamentally an early adopter for a very new approach to business which basically says that people have other motivations besides grabbing that carrot, that they actually want to do good work. >> reporter: speaking of good work, figured out the candle answer yet? with dollar signs in their eyes and the clock ticking in their heads, some folks tack the
6:44 pm
candle to the wall. that falls flat. >> reporter: no surprise to swarthmore psychologist barry schwartz, who's studied motivation for decades. >> money isn't a natural part of anything we do. it's not a part of practicing medicine; you know the natural thing to practicing medicine is healing people, getting paid for it is unnatural. similarly with law and with any profession-- teaching. so maybe what happens is that what money does is it disconnects people from the real point and purpose of their activity. >> reporter: case in point: wall street bonuses which, schwartz insists, fueled the crash. >> it created in people who ran these companies unbelievable short term-ism because all that mattered was making the company look good for the next quarter or the next year so that they'd get a huge bonus in the form of stock options which they would then cash in. and what the consequence was for the company five years down the road was of no concern to them. a disaster.
6:45 pm
>> reporter: now if cash incentives don't even work for salespeople, says dan pink, think how useless they are in a right brain world. consider wikipedia, the world's largest source of free information, or the free web browser firefox: "open-source" projects created and developed by users for no pay at all! and why would labor the world over work for free? >> i think by contributing to open source communities you can get some gratification and praise and really give yourself a sense of purpose. >> reporter: we gathered a group of open-sourcers in washington. >> you're working with people that you like, you're doing things that you love to do, and it's just very fulfilling. so money isn't the only reason why someone might want to contribute to it. >> reporter: you're describing a world that sounds like a marketplace but it just doesn't have any money in it. >> you know, you need adequate compensation, you have to live, you have to survive, okay?
6:46 pm
but if you ask an artist why they became an artist a lot of them will say: i can't do anything else, i have to do this. it's the same thing here. you know? it's the fulfillment, the love of doing it is reason enough. >> reporter: yes, says pink, people need enough dollars to survive-- most of these folks have day jobs. but after that, humans want autonomy, a sense of purpose; mastery. >> we do things because they're interesting. we do things because we like them. we do things because we get better at them, because they contribute to the world. even if they don't have a payoff in getting a reward or satisfying some biological drive. this is not a plea for a kinder, gentler approach to business, this is a plea for saying: lets wake up, lets get past our outdated assumptions, and lets' actually run businesses in concert with what the science shows about human performance. >> reporter: which brings us
6:47 pm
back to our experiment, one of many over the years that have come to the same conclusion. 128 people took part in the original candle experiment. those offered money averaged 11 minutes to solve it. but it turned out that, counter to the predictions of classical economics, those people offered no money at all. discovered the solution much faster: tacking the box to the wall, to hold the candle and catch any dripping wax, in an average of just 7-and-a-half minutes! and thus the punchline of this story and dan pink's new book: to succeed in today's economy, it's the fire within that must be lit. >> lehrer: finally tonight, a very un-british debate. simon marks has that story from london.
6:48 pm
>> reporter: it was a moment in british political history, the three leaders of britain's major political parties battling it out in the race to head the next government here, appearing in the country's first-ever u.s. presidential-style televised debate. prime minister gordon brown, seeking another five years in office for his governing labor party. hoping to scupper his plans, david cameron, leader of the opposition conservatives. and the youthful nick clegg of the centrist liberal democrats, trying to thrust the country's third-ranked party to the fore. the debate occurred in front of an invited, politically-balanced audience. and though it was modeled on us presidential debates, took place in a country governed by a parliamentary system. voters here choose which local candidates to represent them in the british parliament, they don't vote directly for national leaders. but tonight it was the national
6:49 pm
leaders who were projecting their parties view on domestic affairs. >> we say it's so important for our country that while we cut the deficit we will make thain our investment in education per pupil. now the conservatives can not say this and i think we need an answer this evening. again, it's the risk, the risk to our health service, the risk in crime if you have less police. now it's the risk to education. i say it's a risk too far if you cut teachers. >> what gordon brown isn't telling you is that he's putting up national insurance contributions on every single job in 2011, the biggest cost schools have is teachers. so he's going to be taking money out of every single school in the country, primary school, secondary school, f.e. college. we say stop the waste in government now so we can stop the lion's share of that national insurance increase, that jobs tax next year. that's the best way to make sure we keep the money going into the
6:50 pm
school. >> mr. clegg? >> the more they attack each other, the more they sound exactly the same. look, we all know we've got this great black hole in our public finances. that's obvious. we know we're going to have to save money. we all know we're going to have to make cuts. the question at this election is who is trying to be straight with you about the scale of those cuts, how long they'll take. >> reporter: while the debate was supposed to focus on doe i can issues, a question about conditions in the british army quickly led to discussion about conditions for the armed forces serving in afghanistan. >> frankly, we shouldn't be in the situation we are. in the last few months, we had to fight a bat until parliament to stop the government cutting the training for the territorial army and i think it's padness. it's not only that we've got to make sure that we don't waste money on bureaucrats in the minutery of defense and the rest of it and spend that on equipment for brave servicemen and servicewomen. we should also use the know how and the manufacturing brilliance and expertise in this country to
6:51 pm
provide our brave soldiers with the equipment which saves lives. >> i would sway the chief of defense staff who said himself we are the best equipped armed forces in our history as a result of the action we've taken. i'm not complacent, i want to do more. but we've put the helicopters in. we've put the vehicles in and we are giving our troop it is equipment. >> thank you. >> reporter: the debate was the most dramatic event yet in a campaign marked by volatile opinion polls and apparent voter apathy. one british voter in two told opinion pollsters they plan to watch tonight's debate, which was shown on the country's main commercial television network, and simulcast on national radio here. but britain's political commentators were mixed about the prospects for the debates impact on voter attitudes ahead of the may 6 election. some believe the debates could be decisive in an election that, polls suggest, remains up for grabs. others argue the electorate is used to seeing boisterous daily
6:52 pm
interactions in parliament between britain's political leaders, and that the debate rules will force the politicians to deliver scripted, stilted performances that fail to sway the undecided. next week, they'll debate the political leaders still get two more televised opportunities to inspire voters. next week, they'll debate foreign affairs, and the third and final encounter will tackle the economy. it's expected to the be the central issue when voters go to the polls after a campaign last just one month that culminates in election day, three weeks from today.
6:53 pm
the president up veiled a plan this afternoon at cape canaveral, florida, that would increase nasa's budget in the coming years, but focus on jump starting a new private space transportation industry. he said new funds would also go into research on a new government-built rocket by 2025 to make manned trips to mars. >> the bottom line is nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space than i am. but we've got to do it in a smart way. (applause) and we can't just keep on doing the same old things that we've been doing and thinking that somehow is going to get us to where we want to go. >> lehrer: also in today's news, huge clouds of ash from an erupting volcano in iceland shut down air traffic over northern europe. the "newshour" is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, previews what's there.
6:54 pm
hari? >> sreenivasan: there's more on britain's televised debates from "globalpost" correspondent michael goldfarb. we have a tax day reader's guide with links to find tips on filing and our pulitzer conversations continue on "art beat." next up: jeff talks to jennifer higdon, the prize winner for music. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. judy? >> woodruff: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. in tampa, florida, where tomorrow, we'll look at the politics of anger. and how it is playing out in the republican primary race here for the u.s. senate. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you on-line. and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
6:55 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org every business day, bank of america lends nearly $3 billion to individuals, institutions, schools, organizations and businesses in every corner of the economy. america-- growing stronger everyday.
6:56 pm
>> this is the engine that connects zero emission technologies to breathing a little easier, while taking 4.6 million truckloads off the road every year. bnsf, the engine that connects us. and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world.
6:57 pm
6:58 pm
6:59 pm

177 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on